Newswise — The National University of Singapore (NUS) today recognised the achievements of two outstanding alumni – YAB Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Prime Minister of Malaysia, and YABhg Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Haji Mohd Ali – with university honours.

Tun Dr Mahathir was conferred the Honorary Doctor of Laws in recognition of his outstanding leadership of Malaysia, as well as his enduring contributions to the longstanding bilateral relations between Singapore and Malaysia. An alumnus of NUS’ predecessor institution, the King Edward VII College of Medicine, Tun Dr Mahathir’s continual efforts in these areas have earned the respect and admiration of many.

Tun Dr Siti, who is an alumna of the King Edward VII College of Medicine, was presented with the NUS Distinguished Alumni Service Award. This is a tribute to her impact as a pioneer and an inspiring role model for women doctors in Malaysia, and a recognition of her excellent and sustained service in the areas of public health in Malaysia and beyond.

These two awards were presented at a special conferment ceremony held at NUS Kent Ridge Campus. The ceremony was presided by Madam Halimah Yacob, President of the Republic of Singapore and NUS Chancellor.

NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye said, “NUS is deeply honoured and privileged to recognise the outstanding achievements of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad with the Honorary Doctor of Laws, and Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Haji Mohd Ali with the Distinguished Alumni Service Award. The University is immensely proud of their achievements and contributions.”

“Tun Dr Siti Hasmah is a pioneer and an inspiring role model for women doctors in Malaysia. She has also been a strong champion for public health issues in Malaysia and beyond. Her life partner, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, is a charismatic and visionary statesman who has shaped the history of Malaysia and the region in many ways. In their golden years, this popular couple continues to serve their country and communities with dedication and distinction. Their amazing energy and the impact of their combined accomplishments serve as an inspiration for the NUS community,” Prof Tan added.

2018 Honorary Doctor of Laws Recipient: YAB Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad

Tun Dr Mahathir was a medical student at the King Edward VII College of Medicine, the forerunner of the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, from 1947 to 1953. Upon graduation, he served at various government hospitals in Malaysia before setting up his own private medical practice. He was elected to the Malaysian Parliament in 1964.

As Malaysia’s longest-serving Prime Minister and the world’s most senior elected statesman, Tun Dr Mahathir is lauded as the architect of modern Malaysia. During his appointment as Prime Minister from 1981 to 2003, he oversaw the rapid modernisation and growth of the country, reducing poverty and increasing overall, general prosperity.

His long stewardship at the helm of government gave Malaysia the political stability needed for economic growth and development. Foreign investments were welcomed, while the tax structure was reformed and trade tariffs reduced and various state-owned enterprises were also privatised.

Under his leadership, Malaysia prospered economically. Its manufacturing sector grew, the middle class expanded, literacy rates rose as did life expectancies. The country’s steady growth was also an inspiration to many other developing countries and some sought to emulate Malaysia’s success.

In the 1990s, Tun Dr Mahathir’s government initiated a series of major infrastructure projects, such as the development of Putrajaya as the home of Malaysia's public service, the Bakun Dam in Sarawak, the largest hydroelectric dam in Malaysia, as well as the Multimedia Super Corridor to develop an area measuring about 15km by 40km south of Kuala Lumpur into a multimedia hub.

Tun Dr Mahathir retired in 2003, after 22 years as Malaysia’s Prime Minister. In May 2018, he returned to helm his country’s government in a stunning demonstration of his abiding love for Malaysia and his desire to enhance growth and prosperity for his countrymen.

2018 NUS Distinguished Alumni Service Award Recipient: YABhg Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Haji Mohd

After the Second World War, Tun Dr Siti enrolled in the King Edward VII College of Medicine in Singapore in 1947, the only Malay female student in her cohort. She graduated in 1955 and returned to Kuala Lumpur to serve her housemanship at the General Hospital.

Tun Dr Siti was a trailblazer in many ways, achieving many ‘firsts’ at the Ministry of Health. In 1965, she became the first woman in Malaysia to be appointed Medical Officer in the Maternal and Child Health Department. In 1974, she was the first female doctor to be appointed the State Maternal and Child Health Officer.

She has also served in various leadership positions, including President of the Malaysian Girl Guides Association, President of the Malaysian Medical Association Foundation and President of the Association for the Rehabilitation of Handicapped Children.

In recognition of her assiduous efforts and contributions, Tun Dr Siti has received numerous local and international honorary doctorates, awards and titles. She is a pioneer and an inspiring role model for women in Malaysia and around the world.


Past recipients

Past recipients of the NUS Honorary Doctor of Laws include the late Singapore Founding Prime Minister and alumnus Mr Lee Kuan Yew; His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu'izzaddin Waddaulah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam; Singapore Emeritus Senior Minister and alumnus Mr Goh Chok Tong; United Nations Secretary-General Mr Ban Ki-Moon; and President of Singapore, NUS Chancellor and alumna Madam Halimah Yacob.

Past recipients of the NUS Distinguished Alumni Service Award include Singapore Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Mr Zainul Abidin Bin Mohammad Rasheed; Ambassador of Singapore to the United States Professor Chan Heng Chee; Ambassador-at-Large Mr Gopinath Pillai; Mayor of North-west District Dr Teo Ho Pin; and Chairman of DBS Group Mr Peter Seah.